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Stingley death has Albany connection

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April 5, 2007

Albany --  The father of South Georgia Wildcats head coach Derek Stingley has died at the age of 55. He was pronounced dead at a Chicago hospital after being found unresponsive in his home in Chicago early this morning.  

Darryl Stingley was a star receiver for the New England Patriots until he was paralyzed by a hit from former Oakland Raider safety Jack Tatum in an exhibition game almost 30 years ago.  

Derek Stingley left for Chicago early this morning after learning the tragic news of his father's death, and will not be coaching the Wildcats for their game this weekend against Louisville.

Derek Stingley was seven years old when his father was left a quadriplegic in 1978. In his office here in Albany, Derek Stingley, who was a star defensive back in the arena football league, has a specially made picture of himself covering his father on a football field.

Derek Stingley was a star baseball player as a child but it was his father who talked him into giving football a try. Even after what happened to him on that terrible August night almost three decades ago.

"You can always tell Derek was very proud of his father," said Wildcats General Manager  Darren McPhail. "He handled his situation well. I think that motivated Derek to play football. Before that happened, Derek was a baseball player. I don't know that if before a certain conversation with his father if he would have every played football."

"Our players understand that and our players want to win. That is why they are here. We really don't see affecting their play on the field. I think they will be a much more spirited group. And after things like this, you learn not to take anything for granted," said McPhail.

McPhail doesn't know if Derek Stingley will return before next Thursday's game at Birmingham. Derek Stingley is on an indefinite leave of absence and the Wildcats do not know when he will rejoin the team.

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